Scaramouche. 1952. USA. Directed by George Sidney. 115 min.
Screenplay by Ronald Millar, George Froeschel, based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini. With Stewart Granger, Janet Leigh, Eleanor Parker, Mel Ferrer, Nina Foch. One of the great costume dramas, Scaramouche recounts Sabatini’s tale of a libertine in revolutionary France who disguises himself as a masked clown in a vaudeville troupe to avenge the death of his friend by a master swordsman, the Marquis de la Tour d'Azyr. The role of Scaramouche was a lifelong dream for Stewart Granger, who apprenticed with a fencing champion in order to perform his own swashbuckling stunts convincingly; his climactic duel in a Parisian theater with the Marquis (a lithe and balletic Mel Ferrer)—at nearly seven minutes, the longest in film history—is unforgettably thrilling. So too are the parries of sexual innuendo between Granger and wayward actress Lenore (Eleanor Parker, in a flaming red wig), and the Bourbon noblewoman (Janet Leigh) who may or may not be his sister. George Sidney directs in the grand Hollywood tradition of Fairbanks and Flynn, masterfully abetted by cinematographer Charles Rosher (whose Technicolor has a velvety lushness), composer Victor Young, and costumer Gile Steele. 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Warner Bros.